In the universe of digital voice assistants, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant are the indisputable rulers of the consumer AI solar system. By contrast, Microsoft's Cortana is like Pluto. We know it's generally the same as the others, but we can't decide if it has all the attributes required for classification as a planet... er... true voice assistant. Part of the problem is that people don't talk to Cortana. Microsoft introduced its digital assistant, named after the synthetic intelligence character in Halo, in 2014 on the Windows Phone platform.
"Of all the questions you could have asked…" That's how Microsoft Cortana, the digital assistant and female voice inside the new $199 Invoke voice-activated speaker from Harman Kardon, responded when I asked what she thought of Amazon Echo, the rival speaker it will inevitably draw comparisons to. It was Echo and its own chatty artificial intelligence-infused assistant Alexa, after all, that started what is rapidly becoming an increasingly crowded market for such intelligent cloud-connected speakers. The speakers let you use your voice to set alarms and timers, turn on lights, list appointments, deliver the news and play music. More: Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod -- or all 3? How to choose a smart speaker Google's been expanding its lineup of Google Home speakers with the Google Assistant. Apple is readying a HomePod speaker with Siri for a December release.
The Sonos One wireless speaker, priced at $199, will be available Oct. 24. It will support multiple voice services, launching with Amazon Alexa, but will add Siri using AirPlay 2, and Google Assistant, in 2018. Sonos is upping the volume in the smart speaker race. Already well-known for its great sounding wireless home speakers, Sonos is bringing to market the first whole home speaker system with built-in voice control using Amazon's digital voice-commanded assistant Alexa. The new speaker, the $199 Sonos One, due out Tuesday, raises the bar for good-sounding smart speakers.
If last year's Google Home was the speaker that proved Google Assistant is worthy Amazon competitor, the Google Home Mini is the one that will get people hooked. The smaller Google Home has all the same smarts as its larger counterparts, but at less than half the price. It's difficult to see how that doesn't shake out as a win for Google. Functionally, the $49 Google Home Mini is very similar to the original Google Home. The disc-shaped speaker is covered in cloth similar to what's on the base of the larger model.
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In what appears to be a first, Amazon's Alexa will act as a guide for a board game called When in Rome, according to the startup Sensible Object. Due out in March 2018, When in Rome will be the first of six voice-augmented games Sensible Object plans to release next year. Each game in the series called Voice Originals will cost $24.99, CEO Alex Fleetwood told VentureBeat in a phone interview. When in Rome serves up trivia questions from locals in 20 cities around the world.
Amazon has its Alexa everywhere strategy. Google Assistant has Android for distribution. Apple has Siri throughout its products. And now Samsung is trying to get its Bixby platform a little more love via distribution and more touch points for developers. Samsung's master plan is to embed its Bixby digital assistant in more of its core products and then take that reach and woo developers.
It was only a matter of time: Samsung's Bixby assistant isn't confined to just phones anymore. The company will soon bring its digital assistant to appliances, starting with its own refrigerators and smart TVs. Samsung is also working with third-party developers to open up Bixby to non-Samsung products "in the near future." The news is part of Samsung's "Bixby 2.0" update, announced today at the company's developer conference in San Francisco. The revamped Bixby is smarter, has better voice recognition capabilities, and has improved personalization features.
There have been many "ages" throughout human history, most notably the industrial age and the digital age. Now, we have officially entered the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Within this AI age are many technologies, including machine learning and deep learning. These are fundamentally transforming and altering the business landscape. Its ability to revolutionize the world has been likened to what electricity did in its day.
Voice assistants seem to represent the best of what films offered us in the future: the ability to control your home, your music and everything else about your life simply by talking to a digital butler. But science fiction never had them sounding quite so bad. Despite all the hype around voice assistants, they have mostly been confined to things that make them sound terrible when they speak. Siri mostly comes out of your phone speakers, for instance, and the best the Google Assistant can do is the little rounded Google Home. The Sonos One represents the first time that you can talk to a voice assistant and actually have its voice – and anything else it does – sound good.